Album Reviews

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are a bunch of shaggy-haired woolgatherers with serious technical chops. Some of their best-known songs have titles such as ‘Found God in a Tomato’ and ‘Hymn For a Droid’. From the band name to the song titles and the members’ apparent lifestyle choices, all accusations of ridiculousness fall flat as the Crumpets have never pretended to cultivate restraint.

So where does the Perth band take us on album #4, SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound? It’s clear from the off that we’re in for another high energy psych-rock expedition driven by the caprices of songwriter Jack McEwan. Ahead of the album, McEwan spoke of his desire to harvest Beatles-esque melody and harmony and set it to a backdrop of super-charged tempos inspired by Nirvana and early Kings of Leon.

The results come off sounding more like Motörhead might’ve done if Lemmy had swapped the JD for LSD, or a Black Sabbath LP being played at 45 RPM. The Crumpets definitely aren’t shy of enthusiasm across the album’s 14 tracks. And while on first impact the incessant riffing and cranked-up tempos can induce a sense of vertigo, McEwan equips each track with enough classic melody to impel you into further listens.

But what does this record have to say beyond confirming Psychedelic Porn Crumpets remain a fun and explosive fivesome? Along with the members’ respective gifts as instrumentalists, McEwan’s lyrics bring depth to the tunes, even ones titled things like ‘Tripolasaur’, ‘Pukebox’ and ‘Mungdungus’.

The latter reflects on the societal pressure to give up the rock’n’roll dream, with all its adjoining debauchery. “They said, at my intervention / You should give drinking a rest,” sings McEwan, backed by a medicine ball-heavy wall of guitars that resembles The Living End at their most hard-rocking. On ‘Mr Prism’, he’s grappling with a different vice. “No more lungs, doctor says I’m done,” he begins, offering a more than serviceable John Lennon impersonation. “He tells me that I should probably quit smoking.”

It’s hard news to take, no doubt, but what really stings is the fact this self-evident advice comes at a cost. “80 bucks to hear that professional opinion,” McEwan moans. Though, the good news is, he’ll get a medical note to be excused from work, plus it’s not lost on him he’d soon be dead were it not for the pharmacological ingenuity of people like Alexander Fleming. It’s true McEwan mightn’t possess the wit of Ray Davies or the stirring poetic touch of Robert Hunter, but the lyrics are effective in adding an extra layer to proceedings.

Three of the 14 tracks serve as preludes or interludes, which provide some necessary relief from the otherwise ceaseless sonic intensity. Even so, SHYGA! does ask a lot of listeners. All three guitars are plugged in and cranked to 11 throughout and the riff supply never runs dry. Drummer Danny Caddy deserves a special mention for holding it all together and doing so with metronomic dedication.

SHYGA! saves one of its strongest tracks until second last. More than anything else in the sequence, ‘Mango Terrarium’ underlines McEwan’s knack for summoning glimmering, flower power melody. You could easily de-riffify and pare back ‘Mango Terrarium’ and it would still hold its own as a compelling pop song.

On SHYGA!, the Crumpets go hard, but not without consequences. It’s far from a mindless journey, mind, but what’s most impressive is the band’s ability to continually pick themselves up off the floor and launch into yet another wedge of glam-powered psych rock.

SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound is out now. Stream or download here.

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